After 7 months in Montréal

April 13, 2020

Time Flies, and brings with it…

The end of February officially marked our seven months in Montréal. From going to two clueless, haphazard, scared people with a baby, with no idea about anything Montréal-ish, we are happy to report that we haven’t done too bad for ourselves.

In these seven months, I have completed my first semester, and am half-way through my second; husband has found a wonderful job, and a table-tennis place; we have discovered our favourite burger place (its Harvey’s), and have definite favourite spots for our grocery shopping (we love grocery shopping); we have gone to exhibitions and the Christmas Parade; have gotten lost in the Underground City, and have seen our first real snowfall – and had our first major injuries due to that (and gotten the wonderful chance to experience the 8-hour-emergency-room wait); the baby has found a day-care, with the most kind-hearted lady; we have had friends over, have spent hours just chatting, and each one of us has made new friends – in the university, office, and day-care.

Too say we have been blessed is an understatement.

The Academic Journey

The primary reason that we moved – if you remember my last post – was so that I can pursue my PhD. Coming from Pakistan, I was scared of this massive academic transition, and though I had been accepted, there was, and most days there is, the fear that the university will discover that they have made a mistake in granting me a place, that there is no way that a person like me, with her hardly straightforward academic journey, can compete with students who have studied here, are much more well-read, know the system better than me, and have had an A+ academic journey.

It is true that in certain ways I have had to start over – relearn things, catch up, learn new things (at least Chicago Style Referencing is easy enough for one to not want to kill themselves). But isn’t that the point of any education? I have had such a wonderful support system at Concordia – from the faculty to my peers, who have guided me and never once made me seem like I don’t know my way around. They have been helpful with their advice and suggestions. Beyond that, there is the institutional support – and while trying not to be ungrateful to my own country, but at the same time being realistic – this kind of support, comprising of training and preparing you in every which way, doesn’t exist in the majority of universities back home. To be able to do research in a place and university like this is a dream, where on every step they are only trying to make things easy for you.

This is not to say that other’s experiences have been same, or they haven’t faced problems. Or there aren’t other barriers or hinderances. But I am talking here from my own experience. And so far, my experience has been positive, and I don’t take that for granted.

Slowly getting there

One thing that we decided before moving here is that we will take our time making this place home. This decision was in light of our financial situation (pampers took priorities when buying things), and the fact that we didn’t want to burden ourselves with the stress of “making a home.” The result being that we still don’t have a sofa, and it was only this week that we finally were able to buy a second pair of winter shoes.
But Montréal will be the city where we learnt our strength, where my baby learnt to crawl, stand, and take her first so-far-yet-non-independent steps. Next month we will celebrate her first birthday (just writing this makes me teary eyed), and these milestones and memories will always be associated with this house, this address, and this city.

Without fail, every single time someone has gotten to know that this will be our first winter here, they have responded back with, “Good Luck!” – there has been no exception to this rule. And I can see what they mean! But for me the snow is something like magic. I can sit and watch it fall for hours at end. Yes, the next day is tough, but it still is all so beautiful. For real, there are people waiting for me to start hating winter and all that comes with it. But for now, my love-affair with Montréal is only going stronger (minus the emergency rooms)!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Montréal International.